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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsNewsResearch&ExpertiseProfessor David Engerman:‘Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War’

Professor David Engerman: ‘Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War’

On October 17-19, 2013 the international conference ‘Social and Human Sciences on Both Sides of the “Iron Curtain”’ organized by the HSE Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities is being held in Moscow.

This international conference is intended to put together research findings on the history of social and human sciences in the capitalist West and the socialist East during the second half of the 20th century. The HSE news service talked to two participants about the conference about their expectations and suggestions for reading.

David Engerman, Professor of History at Brandeis University (USA) is delivering a paper ‘A Mecca for Economists and Planners’: Pilgrimages to Nehruvian India at the second plenary session. He told the news service about a new western approach to understanding soviet life during the Cold War.

David Engerman :

— It's fascinating to understand how much our predecessors knew about  their own time - we like to think of ourselves as superior, yet earlier social scientists had a keener understanding of their societies than we often think. This is especially true of our views of Soviet scholars. Westerners at the time - and many since - view Soviet scholars as bland parrots of party lines. But for as much outside pressures as they faced, soviet scholars were effective expressing complex ideas using the limited ideological language available to them in publications.

I think it's important for youth today to move past pure blame and discrediting of the Cold War. Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War, which emerged not just from the differences between the US and the USSR but also from some of their commonalities.’

Irina MorozovaIrina Morozova, from Humboldt University of Berlin who will speak in the Cold War historiographies section about  ‘Central Asian intertwine of nationality, religion and democracy in the ‘hall of mirrors’ of Western and Soviet historiographies (1950-1980)’ says that the thing that fascinates her most in this area is the ‘comparative history of decolonisation in Asia and the Orient and the impact of global geopolitics on the deconstruction of socialism’. She recommended the following books for anyone interested in the topic of her talk;

P. van de Veer, Imperial Encounters. Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton and Oxford 2001). 

M. Werner, B. Zimmermann, ‘Beyond Comparison: Histoire croisee and the Challenge of Reflexivity’, History and Theory 45 (2006) 30-50

D.F. Eickelman and J. Piscatori, Muslim Politics (Princeton 1996)

This is the first time Irina has taken part in an HSE conference and she hopes to develop other forms of cooperation with colleagues in the field.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service

Programme.pdf

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